FORT THOMAS, Ky. -- The fourth week of high school football in Northern Kentucky features a matchup of marquee area programs as Ryle visits Highlands and two Class 3A powerhouses arrive: No. 1 Corbin at Beechwood and No. 3 Belfry at Newport Central Catholic.
Meanwhile, unbeaten Covington Catholic and Simon Kenton seek to continue their dominant early-season ways.
Those matchups are among nine major Northern Kentucky football storylines to follow this week:
Highlands meets old nemesis in Ryle and Jake Chisholm
Ryle (2-1) at Highlands (2-1), 7 p.m.
In the middle of the extremely un-Highlands-like seven-game losing streak in 2016, a season in which the Bluebirds won only three games and later exited the Class 5A playoffs the first week of the postseason, Ryle and now-senior Jake Chisholm ran all over the Birds in a 50-14 rout at Ryle last Sept. 9.
Chisholm started the Raiders' romp last season with a 91-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff and finished the game with 232 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. Ryle also beat Highlands in 2015, 48-24, and had been the only Northern Kentucky team to beat the Birds from 2007 to 2014, when Highlands won seven state titles in eight years. Ryle won 28-26 in 2010.
Stopping Chisholm will again be key for the Birds in 2017, and if Highlands is going to have any success this week and improve to 3-1 this season while ending a two-game losing streak to the Raiders, they're going to have to be better against the run. Scott County (3-0), ranked No. 5 in the latest Associated Press Kentucky Class 6A state poll, amassed 427 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground last Thursday in a 71-20 rout in Georgetown. Six Cardinals scored rushing touchdowns and Scott County averaged 11.5 yards per carry.
The Birds, who are ranked No. 10 in this week's Class 5A state poll, will also want to be better in taking care of the football after coughing up the ball three times last week. Senior quarterback Carl Schoellman was a bright spot for Highlands last week, completing 16 of 27 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. He is 44-for-73 this season for 511 yards and three touchdowns overall.
Ryle looking for third straight win after rough start
Ryle (2-1) at Highlands (2-1), 7 p.m.
Another big game for Jake Chisholm, a third straight win over Highlands and a third straight win this season following a rough -- really rough -- first game will be just what the Raiders want this week. Ryle routed school-district rival Boone County, 48-0, last week behind five touchdowns by Chisholm.
The senior running back carried 16 times for 202 yards and four touchdowns while adding two catches for 27 yards and another score against Boone. Chisholm has 541 yards on 58 carries with eight rushing touchdowns this season with a team-best nine catches for 131 yards and two more scores.
While the star runner is always a focus of the Raiders' offense, quarterback play finally started to improve for the Raiders last week. Senior Easton Pilyer completed 6 of 12 passes for 97 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. If quarterback play continues to improve, watch for Chisholm and the Raiders, who are ranked No. 7 in the Class 6A state poll, to keep on rolling.
1A No. 1 Beechwood hosts 3A No. 1 Corbin
Corbin (3-0) at Beechwood (2-0), 7:30 p.m.
The defending Class 1A state champs will face their toughest test since the 2016 state final with Class 3A No. 1 Corbin in town this week. The Redhounds, who were state semifinalists last season in 3A, have outscored foes 72-21 in three wins this season.
Senior quarterback Cameron Sizemore has completed 34 of 56 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns for Corbin. Junior running back Cameron Maguet has caught seven passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns with 186 yards on 25 carries and two more touchdowns. Sizemore has spread his passes out to eight different receivers, and three different runners have carried at least 25 times for the Redhounds, including Sizemore with 37 carries for 55 yards and a score.
Senior quarterback Brayden Burch completed has completed 19 of 38 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers and junior Logan Castleman has been his top target with six catches for 86 yards and a score. Three Tigers have at least 19 carries, including Castleman with 86 yards on 19 carries. Sophomore Joshua Derry leads Beechwood with 108 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns and senior James Davis added 99 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown.
Beechwood is ranked No. 1 in the Class 1A state poll, moving up from No. 2 after a 7-0 win last week at Class 2A No. 8 Somerset.
NewCath continues season-opening gauntlet with 3A No. 3 Belfry
Belfry (1-1) at Newport Central Catholic (2-1), 7 p.m.
The Class 2A Thoroughbreds suffered their first loss of the season last week, 35-7, at Class 6A Campbell County and the task gets no easier this week as Class 3A power Belfry visits. The Breds opened the season with wins over much bigger schools in a 17-7 final over Class 4A Scott and a 29-7 victory over Class 6A Cooper, so win or lose this week, NewCath will be suitably tested for district play against like-sized programs.
Still, NewCath is out to win. To do that, the Breds will have to limit a powerful Belfry rushing attack. Four Pirates rushers have at least 100 yards on the ground, including senior running back Derek Wellman with 344 yards on 38 carries and four touchdowns. Senior running back Taveon Hunter has added 292 yards on 14 carries with three touchdowns. Junior quarterback Kevin Browning, who has attempted only one pass, has carried 19 times for 126 yards and a touchdown and senior running back Justin Adkins has added 104 yards on nine carries with a touchdown.
Junior Kyle Kelly leads the Breds' offense with 373 yards on 66 carries with two touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Paul Kremer has completed 13 of 30 passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.
NewCath is ranked No. 7 in the Class 2A state poll. Belfry beat NewCath 41-8 last Sept. 9 at Belfry.
CovCath heads north to take on Ohio Division II power
Covington Catholic (3-0) at Kings (1-1), 7 p.m.
It was another week and another dominating performance last week for senior quarterback A.J. Mayer and the high-powered CovCath offense. Mayer completed 6 of 8 passes for 160 yards and three touchdowns, including two to senior receiver Malachi Pike, in a 41-0 rout of Cooper. Pike had three catches for 87 yards and junior running back Casey McGinness carried 10 times for 99 yards.
Overall, Mayer has completed 29 of 46 passes for 591 yards and eight touchdowns through three games. McGinness has carried 41 times for 320 yards.
The CovCath defense pitched its first shutout of the season last week, but has been strong in each game thus far. The Colonels held Lexington Catholic to 214 yards in Game 2, including just 56 on the ground, after the Knights had rolled up 508 yards in a 34-24 win over Madison Central during their first game. CovCath also shut down Chisholm and Ryle throughout most of a 49-17 win on Aug. 18.
Now the Colonels, ranked No. 1 in the Class 5A state poll, will cross the Ohio River to take on the Knights. Kings is 1-1 this season and is coming off a 34-27 loss to Lakota East in the Knights' home opener last week. Junior quarterback Ashton Koller directs the usually strong Kings offense, having completed 9 of 20 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown thus far. But junior running back Nak'emon Williams is the focus for Kings with 435 yards on 38 carries and six touchdowns. Williams carried 27 times for 253 yards and four touchdowns in a 37-31 win at Lebanon Week 1.
Simon Kenton finally heads home
Dixie Heights (0-3) at Simon Kenton (3-0), 7 p.m.
Simon Kenton excelled in three road games to open the season and is a good bet to improve to 4-0 this week when the Pioneers host winless Dixie Heights.
Senior quarterback Matt Shearer has completed 39 of 59 passes for 438 yards and eight touchdowns without an interception so far in 2017, with 208 yards on 50 carries and five more touchdowns on the ground. Meanwhile, sophomore running back Austin Hammack has added 367 yards on 41 carries with three touchdowns. Senior receiver Sam Murray has been Shearer's top target with 11 catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns.
Simon Kenton is ranked No. 6 in the AP Class 6A state poll and is the highest-ranked Class 6A team in the area.
Dixie Heights fell to 0-3 last week in a 49-0 loss Saturday at Milford (Ohio), getting outgained by the Eagles 319-203, including 241-42 through the air.
Conner hits the road looking for a bounce-back win
Conner (1-1) at Scott (2-1), 7 p.m.
Conner gave unbeaten Simon Kenton everything it could handle last week in the driving rain at Conner before falling 13-6, and the Cougars hit the road for the first time this week looking to get back on track. Senior Cooper Gullion and sophomore Jared Hicks were both still getting snaps at quarterback last week, but a rain-soaked Game 2 may not have given James Trosper's staff much to go on if the aim is to settle on one.
Gullion has completed 7 of 10 passes for 72 yards to go with 55 yards on 14 carries. Hicks has completed 5 of 18 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Christian Webster has gained 131 yards on 19 carries with a touchdown for the Cougars.
Perrin duo continues to impress at Scott
Conner (1-1) at Scott (2-1), 7 p.m.
Senior Nelson Perrin and his younger brother, sophomore Quincy Perrin, continued their dominance of local defenses last week in a 62-13 win over Holy Cross.
Quincy Perrin carried six times for 135 yards with two touchdowns against Holy Cross and has gained 450 yards on 35 carries with four touchdowns this season. Nelson Perrin added 134 yards on four carries and a touchdown last week and has 241 yards on 20 carries overall with three touchdowns. Junior David Patrick, who had 93 yards against Holy Cross, has carried 20 times for 164 yards and four scores while junior Chad Ohmer has completed 11 of 19 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns.
Campbell County hits the road looking for third win
Campbell County (2-1) at Cooper (0-3), 7:30 p.m.
Campbell County bounced back from an overtime loss at Highlands on Aug. 25 with a 35-7 rout of NewCath last week and the Camels should be able to handle the rebuilding Jaguars this week as well.
Senior running back Alex Dowds has carried 72 times for 584 yards and seven touchdowns for the Camels, while senior quarterback Austin Hoeh has added 82 yards on 23 carries with three touchdowns. Hoeh has completed 37 of 63 passes for 395 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
Cooper continued its early-season struggles last week in a 41-0 loss to CovCath, but sophomore running back Anthony Witschey has emerged with 280 yards on 45 carries and two touchdowns.